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The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
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The Pale Horse (original 1961; edition 1961)

by Agatha Christie

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1,576264,633 (3.6)75
Member:yrizaria
Title:The Pale Horse
Authors:Agatha Christie
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2011), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle, Read again
Rating:****
Tags:mystery, British

Work details

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (1961)

  1. 20
    The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: The narrator of The Pale Horse, Mark Easterbrook, reminds me of the narrator of another Agatha Christie book. Jerry Barton from The Moving Finger. In both of these stories the urban hero goes to a small town and gets entangled in a spine chilling mystery. Another thing that these two books have in common is an unconventional old lady named Mrs. Dane Calthrop, one of the more unique creations of Christie.… (more)
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English (22)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
"Evil is not something superhuman, it's something less than human."

A priest takes a confession from a dying woman in a boarding house. How much of what he's just heard is true and how much is delirium. What he does know is that he must write down a list of names the woman has given him before he forgets them which he does at a small cafe. However, on his way home, he is murdered but the culprit does not find the list secreted in his shoe. This then becomes the only clue into his murder.

Mark Easterbrook is friends with the police pathologist working on the case, Jim Corrigan, and finds himself drawn into the mystery by a few mysterious coincidences. Moving from chic Chelsea coffee houses to an old inn known as The Pale Horse in the sleepy countryside outside of Bournemouth. The inn has closed and is now lived in by a trio of women akin to the witches in MacBeth who claim to have super-natural gifts. Easterbrook realises that something sinister is linked with the Pale Horse and suspects that there is a criminal mastermind behind the operation so along with a female friend sets out to try and unmask this murdering maniac. All appears to be failing until a chance remark suddenly sets everything into place with typical Agatha Christie twist and style.

The book was first published in the early 1960's and the reader clearly gets a feel for place and time. You can just imagine yourself sat in the chic coffee houses of Chelsea surrounded by their "cool" clientele but also the rural countryside where the vicarage becomes the centre of village life with their fetes etc.

Most of the characters are well developed and perhaps best of all there is no Marple or Poirot in sight. There is no flowery sequences and the plot line is taut throughout. I felt like a fish on a hook being methodically reeled in. What the three witches profess to be able to do initially sounds totally far-fetched yet as the action progresses you cannot help but wonder as to whether or not there really is any truth in it.

I did NOT guess the identity of the killer and was totally caught out by the final twist. Each time I thought that I had worked it out I was proved wrong which is as it should be. If I had one complaint it is that the end came a bit too quickly. Murder mysteries are not really my usual fayre but all the same I found this an enjoyable read and believe that any real fans of the genre will do so too. ( )
  PilgrimJess | May 31, 2015 |
I was totally fooled by this one - very enjoyable read. ( )
  cazfrancis | Apr 23, 2015 |
The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie, originally published in 1961, is a tale of murder by black magic. This is the authors’ take on the supernatural and she has included séances, witches and an old 15th century inn called The Pale Horse. The novel is a stand alone although one of her reoccurring characters, Ariadne Oliver is featured and other characters from previous books also make an appearance. I recognized the vicar and his wife from The Moving Finger and Colonel Despard from Cards on the Table.

The main character, Mark Easterbrook stumbles into a reference that The Pale Horse is a place of evil, and that, along with a list of names that turn out to belong to people who have recently died starts him and a friend, Ginger, on an investigation. Meanwhile, from a slightly different angle, the police are also taking an interest due to a recent murder of a priest.

I found this appropriately chilling and original and enjoyed it very much. The author starts her story slowly, but as the pages turn, she amps up the tension and moves her story along quickly. Typically there were a few red herrings along the way and an interesting twist at the end which made The Pale Horse a very satisfactory read. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 7, 2014 |
This was it! The May to December Agatha Christie. So, I figured out who did it and also the recent adapation was truly awful.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
The Pale Horse, written by Agatha Christie, author of 82 novels, is a dark mystery story that deals with a great deal of death through the means of something quite different than Agatha Christie's usual way of going about murders. The main character, Mark Easterbrook, senses something slightly fishy about the coincidental mentions of "The Pale Horse" and decides to investigate the topic. In the process, he finds out things he is quite skeptical about at first, but later takes part in a risky plan to put his mind at ease about the truthfulness behind "The Pale Horse". Ginger, the brains of the plan, helps Mr. Easterbrook uncover a whole load of truth behind the "The Pale Horse" and is very keen on getting the truth out to the police and restoring justice. That was, however, before her life was at stake.

The Pale Horse is a truly well developed mystery written in third person point of view, mostly following Mark Easterbrook and occasionally following Detective-Inspector Lejeune's side of the story. The great thing about this particular mystery novel was that there was more than one villain (villain, not suspect), which made it all the more satisfying to read. The process of how the case gradually unravelled and how the character who found out who the felon was revealed it was absolutely perfect. It really finalized his personality which is great, especially since the reader does not get much about that specific person's characteristics as they are reading.

Even though most characters got his or her own personality, the novel did not contain much (or maybe even any) character development. This point however, does not have anything to do with the goal of the story; it is just something I usually look forward to when I am reading. As a reader, I find amusement in observing how a character changes whether it be gradually and with time or quickly and instinctively, for the worse or the better, from a minor character or a major character; it's just always fun to read. The Pale Horse however, simply did not have that.

The novel was also quite choppy at times; it was not given enough sentence variation at times. I found this was a a bother to me most in the dialogue parts of the story. There would be about three or four consecutive sentences that were about four words long, which definitely put me off. I do have to say though, it was compensated for with the great plot line and brilliant plot twists.

Near the end of The Pale Horse, one of the characters says something that I sincerely think should be widely quoted: "Evil is nothing superhuman, it's something less than human. Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who will never be important, because he'll always be less than man". I realize that this isn't exactly a deep saying and there's not much more to it than what is given, but that is exactly what attracted me to it. It is so frank and straight-forward and I find that absolutely wonderful.

I recommend this novel to all the mystery lovers out there who want a good read, but don't want to have a dictionary next to them to check what every other word means. It had a great plot twist that I thought was executed beautifully. The Pale Horse will definitely be worth your time if you're a fan of the classics. ( )
  RolaG. | Apr 25, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nuuttila, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To
John and Helen Mildmay White
with many thanks for the opportunity
given me to see justice done
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There are two methods, it seems to me, of approaching this strange business of the Pale Horse.
Quotations
Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who will never be important, because he’ll always be less than a man.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
    "WICKEDNESS ... SUCH WICKEDNESS ..."

The dying woman turned to Father Gorman with agony in her eyes, "Stopped ... It must be stopped ... You will ... "
The priest spoke with reassuring authority. "I will do what is necessary. You can trust me."
Father Gorman tucked the list of names she had given him into his shoe. It was a meaningless list: the names were of people who had nothing in common.
On his way home, Father Gorman was murdered. But the police found the list, and when Mark Easterbrook came to inquire into the circumstances of the people listed, he began to discover a connection between them, and an ominous pattern:

EVERY PERSON ON THAT LIST WAS EITHER ALREADY DEAD - OR, HE SUSPECTED, MARKED FOR MURDER!
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312981716, Mass Market Paperback)

Was it really the Thomasina Tuckerton--dropout heiress turned bohemian beat girl--seen in a cafe brawl with another woman? Her obituary confirms it. Thomasina's unfortunate demise would have passed unnoticed if it hadn't been for the priest who suffered a fatal blow at the hand of a stranger only days later. What's the connection? A list of names hidden in father Gorman's shoes--among them, Miss Tuckerton's. It leads to a former country inn, now a house called, The Pale Horse, and a sinister pattern woven by three unusual ladies--a psychic, a medium, and a witch--each with a secret of her own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

After a priest is murdered, Mark Easterbrook investigates the peculiar list of names found on the body.

(summary from another edition)

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